How To Combat The iOS 15 Update For Email Marketing


by KC Chow Agency

We expect the iOS 15 update to arrive this September or October, and many people have been asking the question, “is email marketing dead?”

Certainly, email marketing stats will change. Metrics, tracking, and ultimately, data driven strategy for email marketing definitely won’t be the same.

Read more on in-depth explanation for Apple IOS 15 updates for email marketing

But, email marketing isn’t dead.

Thus, planning your next move for your email marketing is a must. We’re here to help you create a game plan that would more than mitigate the effects of this update. This is of great importance, especially during Q4 holiday email marketing!

Here are a few steps to take as early as now:

Since this is a change that will affect a large portion of what you do, experts have described it as a “turning point for email marketers.” Hence, it is essential that you get things in place to keep you running when it finally arrives. Don’t worry if you have no idea what to do. We have highlighted all the steps in the following lines.

Step 1: Gather Relevant Data Of Subject Lines Before The Official Updates

A/B test your subject line variations and try to find a pattern that would pull people in. Bear in mind that aside from the open rates, click rates could also reveal the psychology of your readers.

Besides that, tweaking the sender’s name and adding some form of personalization into subject lines will help with boosting the open rates. Here are a few examples of subject lines that worked for us:

Urgency Subject Line:
Last call for this, you’re about to lose out…

Personalization And Curiosity Subject Line:
(Firstname) my heartfelt message to you…

Subject Line Relevant For The Occasion, Memorial Day:
In memory of our fallen brave…

Informative Email Subject Line For Pet Lovers:
10 Gestures Your Dog Uses To Communicate 

Subject Line To Use, When Asking Your Contacts To Fill A Survey:
We need your help…

It’s important to take a look at what words may trigger spam filters and to avoid them when crafting your subject lines.

Pro tip: Test send your emails to your own email address first and see which inbox it lands on – if it’s in the main inbox instead of the promotions tab, you have yourself a winner!

Step 2: Split Test And Find The Best Email Template Structure That Generates The Most Amount Of Clicks

Start A/B testing the copy of your automated emails as well. The click rate metric will become more important, and optimizing your flows as early as now will give you a head start. 

Take this template for example.

How To Combat iOS 15 For Email Marketing 1
As a rule of thumb, there should be two main CTA links throughout your email template. The first one should be at the very beginning of your email template (above the fold on mobile view), the second link should be towards almost the end of your email template. However, these strategies may vary based on the audience.

The Email Click Rates Metric Will Become The Main Focus

To be fair, the click rate metric reflects conversion more than the open rate metric. While you wouldn’t be able to test subject lines as effectively as before, actual conversions and sales numbers will always be the best measure of success when it comes to email marketing.

Optimize your email templates, content, or design with further A/B testing. The faster you find an optimized design that works for you, the better.

Step 3: Do Email List Cleaning

Get your list cleaning process started now. That is because the open rate tracking won’t be helpful when trying to read deliverability until ESPs implement new solutions.

Yes. Between these two email marketing stats, open rates will become a less effective metric, and click rates will become the focal point. Once these changes take effect, you will have to adapt your data driven strategy. These are the changes you can make. 

Example List Cleaning Segment:

“Received Email At Least 20 Times”

“Opened Or Clicked Email Zero Time”

“Placed Order At Least Once Overall Time”

This segment can help you identify those who are less likely to place an order via email again, because they might use a dummy email that they don’t really use to place an order in the past.

Additionally, utilise Glockapps or Litmus to supplement your list cleaning process.

Step 4: Adjust Email List Segmentation For Email Campaigns

After a few months when iOS phases out open rates, one of the things that you’ll have to immediately update is your list segmentation. Some of the things worth taking a look at are clicks and purchase activity. 

While you’ll end up having smaller lists or segments, the benefit here would be additional targeting for engaged, high-value contacts. That is, those who will be warm enough to respond to your messaging.

Click rate-based segments would look much like the image below. For this example, it’s a segment focused on people who have bought from your store before and have recently clicked on your emails. The people in this list are relatively engaged and are generally warm towards you.

How To Combat iOS 15 For Email Marketing
The segment below is a simple one which allows you to single out most iOS users. You could send a campaign to them exclusively, or exclude them from your other campaigns.
How To Combat iOS 15 For Email Marketing 2
However, keep in mind that we are not completely neglecting open rates as a segmentation metric because other android devices will still track open rates. Have a look at some of the segments below.

Example Strategy For Segmentation:

Segmentation Examples:

Email Segment 1 Definition:

Those who “Clicked Email” is at least once “In The Last 50 Days”

Those who “Placed Order” is at least once “Overall Time”

Profile Is “Not Suppressed”


Email Segment 2 Definition:

Those who “Opened Email” is at least once “In The Last 50 Days”

Those who “Placed Order” is at least once “Overall Time”

Profile is “Not Suppressed”


Email Segment 3 Definition:

Those with email address includes “”


Note: We will split the segments into three different campaigns, the Email Segment 1 will always get sent first because Email Segment 1 is the most engaging segment when compared to others. Email Segment 2 will get sent in another campaign and it will exclude those subscribers from the Email Segment 1

Note 2: For every email campaign, exclude the “” email subscribers, and make the “” subscribers segment a stand-alone campaign, the reason why is because we want to eliminate the chances of letting subscribers ruin the open rates metric on other campaigns.

We Utilized The Strategies Mentioned Above And Implemented It On One Of Our Clients’ Account. Take A Look At The Results Below.

As you can see, the entire flash sale campaign is split into 7 mini-batches. The number “One” batch targets “those who clicked email,” and this batch will be the first to get sent among all the batches. The next one is the number “Two” batch, and it targets “those who opened email.” This batch will also exclude those segments in the previous batch.

The third batch will specifically target “” email address users. The last batch will target the rest of the active email subscribers, excluding all the segments in the previous batches.

To conclude the results in this test, we get high open rates and click rates on average.

Step 5: Find Additional Channels To Bolster Email Marketing

While email marketing is still in a league of its own, other channels have become popular in their own right over time. Channels like SMS marketing and push notifications aid with your backend, on top of email marketing.

Data suggests that conversions from both push notifications and SMS marketing have been on the rise, and they’re great compliments to your email marketing strategy.

Step 6: Tweak Your Non-engager Re-engagement Strategy

Re-engagement is cheaper than trying to get newer customers. By trying to re-introduce old, formerly engaged customers, you could get them from cold to engaged in a matter of a few emails. Re-engagement strategies rely heavily on open rates to define those who have fallen out of the “engaged subscribers” category.

With the Apple iOS 15 updates, you’ll have to look at other metrics, like shopping recency, frequency, as well as other data, including the “clicked email” metric and “received email” metric. Therefore, you will have two different tiers of re-engagement flows.

Tier 1: Clicked Email Re-engagement (Re-engage those who did not click for a certain period)

Tier 2: Opened Email Re-engagement (Re-engage those who did not open for a certain period)

So, Is Email Marketing Dead? 

Not if we can help it. We at KC Chow Agency have been planning and adjusting our strategies to ensure that our clients are always ahead of the curve. 

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